From the publisher of Hall of Mirrors
London, 1969. With the Swinging Sixties under way, Detectives Arthur Bryant and John May find themselves caught in the middle of a good, old-fashioned manor house murder mystery.
Hard to believe, but even positively ancient sleuths like Bryant and May of the Peculiar Crimes Unit were young once . . . or at least younger. Flashback to London 1969: mods and dolly birds, sunburst minidresses—but how long would the party last?
After accidentally sinking a barge painted like the Yellow Submarine, Bryant and May are relegated to babysitting one Monty Hatton-Jones, the star prosecution witness in the trial of a disreputable developer whose prefabs are prone to collapse. The job for the demoted detectives? Keep the whistle-blower safe for one weekend.
The task proves unexpectedly challenging when their unruly charge insists on attending a party at the vast estate Tavistock Hall. With falling stone gryphons, secret passageways, rumors of a mythical beast, and an all-too-real dismembered corpse, the bedeviled policemen soon find themselves with “a proper country house murder” on their hands.
Trapped for the weekend, Bryant and May must sort the victims from the suspects, including a hippie heir, a blond nightclub singer, and Monty himself—and nobody is quite who he or she seems to be.
If I were to describe Hall of Mirrors in a single word, it would be “chaotic.” This is the 15th book in the Bryant and May series and, quite honestly, it feels like a bad place to begin. Throughout the story, I found myself disoriented by what I consider inadequate scene setup. Fans of the series may like Fowler’s head-hopping style, switching from one point-of-view to another in the middle of paragraphs, but I prefer to feel more grounded in a scene.
I felt the book was too was about 25% too long. It was as though the publisher said we need 400 pages, and so those pages were filled with regular reminders from the main characters of their ineptitude, details which did not add to the mood or story, and delayed responses to questions asked (some of which were never answered until the denouement.)
Several of the characters introduced seemed irrelevant—until the very end, which is where this book shined. The last ten pages were very entertaining because the author let loose with concise and imaginative descriptions of each character and what happened in their lives after the story. It was obvious from these last pages that Fowler has a sharp sense of humor—I just wish it had come through much earlier in the book.